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Families of targeted officers on edge during manhunt

February 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Women "behind the badge" feel stress every time their husband leaves for work. But the Christopher Dorner case is different: This is an ex-police officer, someone that used to be considered part of the law enforcement family, and he's now targeting officers and their families. Many wives of police officers are feeling extremely nervous and on edge.

Every time an update on the search for accused cop killer Christopher Dorner hits the airwaves, "Linda"'s heart beats a little faster.

"Every time I hear anything on the news of the area that my husband is working, I always right away start to pray and I ask God to protect him and to shield him," said "Linda."

As the wife of a 15-year law-enforcement veteran, she now feels like a target herself. As a woman behind the badge, she lives daily with the worry and anxiety of her husband risking his life. Now the manhunt for Dorner brings back old fears.

"As a wife you want to always be there for your husband, and you want to try to comfort him and help him through the pain or the struggle that he's dealing with," said Linda.

Due to heightened security precautions, LAPD motorcycle officers have been taken off the road so they're not visible targets. "Susan" says everyone in her household is on high alert.

"Many people are looking over their shoulders as to what's going on. May people are staying inside their house, not taking any chances," said Susan.

"Susan" is not alone in her experience. There are several organizations like the LAPD Wives Association that try to help bring other women married to law enforcement officers together for mutual support.

They say their private online forum is tense, filled with many anxious comments as the women are definitely feeling on edge and wondering how to explain the situation to their children without scaring them.

Studies show that police wives, like military wives, are often victims of secondary trauma, the stress resulting from wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person.

Spouses need support too, so "Linda" heads a Bible-base support group for the wives of police officers.

"We're going to pray and we're going to lift up every officer as much as we can to stop this before it gets out of control," said "Linda."

As the wife of a 26-year LAPD veteran, "Susan" has advice: "When they get home, you do have a sigh of relief knowing that they're home. Put your faith in God."

Psychologists say a good support network, whether it's peers, friends or family, is essential in helping people weather very stressful situations. That's why wives of police officers may find comfort in reaching out to each other as they cope with this unique situation.


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